Archive for June, 2019
- Fleas – Rabbits can pick up fleas the same fleas Ctenocephalides as your dog or cat as well as Spilopsyllus cuniculi which is the rabbit flea. This parasite can be involved in the spread of myxomatosis between rabbits. If you see fleas on your rabbit, it is important to treat both your rabbit, the environment and any other pets in the household.
- Mites – The most common mites associated with rabbits is Cheyletiella parasitovorax or otherwise known as walking dandruff. This will tend to appear as an area of white scurfy skin, typically on the back or between the shoulder blades. If you believe your rabbit may have mites, we would advise a check-up with your veterinary surgeon, as they can also be indicators of other disease. Another mite rabbits can diagnosed with are ear mites Psoroptes cuniculi. Signs of ear mites might include crusting, itching and ulceration of the ear canals. It is advised to treat the rabbit for mites prior to removal of the ear crust as this can be extremely painful to remove. The rabbit fur mite (Leporacus gibbus) can infest rabbits without symptoms, however some rabbit may have allergy reactions to these mites. Demodex cuniculi is another mite which can be found on rabbits, however does not appear to cause clinical issue.
- Lice – The rabbit biting louse otherwise known as Haemodipsus ventricosus can be seen with the naked eye. This are more common in large colonies.
- Flies – these are not technically an external parasite however can be a nuisance to our pet rabbits and can cause serious health concerns. Flies can lay eggs on susceptible animals causing fly-strike or myiasis. These eggs will then hatch out and start to feed on the animal.
During the summer months, pet rabbits may be affected by maggot infestation. Different terms are used for this but fly strike is the most common.
Healthy rabbits are generally not affected by fly strike. There are three main problems that lead to the condition. First, a wound to which the flies are attracted and on which they lay their eggs is an obvious site where maggots can cause damage. More commonly, a rabbit that cannot take and eat its soft faeces caecotrophs (either due to arthritis or obesity) will quickly have matted and soiled fur around its anus. This, from the fly’s point of view, is an ideal opportunity to lay eggs. When the maggots hatch they spread from the area (commonly up the abdomen) and may cause a tremendous amount of damage as they eat through the tissues while the rabbit is still living. Thirdly, damp bedding is an ideal environment for egg-laying and maggot growth and development; these may then migrate onto the rabbit. This is a fatal condition if not treated.
The key factors in preventing fly strike are to ensure that bedding is clean and dry, and that daily cleaning of toilet areas is carried out; the whole accommodation should be completely emptied and disinfected 1-2 times weekly. Checks of your rabbit should be carried out twice daily, if you find any wounds or ulcerated areas of skin then please seek veterinary attention. A rabbit owner should also make sure that their rabbit is able to keep it bottom clean, if the rabbit keeps soiling itself, then there is usually a health reason as to why e.g. obesity or arthritis. If a rabbit is unable to keep itself clean, then please seek veterinary advice.
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We recommend vaccinating your rabbit against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (Strains 1 and 2). To cover against all these your rabbit will need two vaccines. Both diseases are highly contagious between the rabbit population however easily prevented.
Myxomatosis is a virus carried by biting insects and mosquitos and can be passed on without direct contact. The symptoms include puffy eyelids, conjunctivitis within the first 7 days and swelling will extend around the eyes, ears and genital regions after 7 days.In severe cases the rabbit may die from the virus.
Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (RVHD) is a highly infectious disease that can affect domestic and wild rabbits. RVHD 1, the classic RVHD, has been present in rabbits for decades and vaccinated again. A new strain of RVHD (RVHD2) was first noted in France in 2010. In the last 12 months, it has become an increasing concern regarding this new strain of RVHD in the UK with confirmed cases.
This new strain is less aggressive than RVHD 1 and symptoms may appear from 3 to 9 days post exposure. Symptoms can include high temperature, lethargy, sudden bleeding from areas (nose/mouth), reduced appetite and possible seizures. Even though this strain is less aggressive if not treated can cause death in severe cases.
Myxomatosis and RVHD 1 are prevented by the administration of a combined vaccination. It takes 3 weeks post vaccination for the rabbit to build immunity to the viruses. This vaccination will provide the rabbit with 1 year immunity to the viruses.
RVHD 2 is prevented by the administration of a separate vaccination. There must be a 2 week gap between the two vaccinations and will provide immunity to the RVHD 2 strain for 1 year.
Obesity can be a contributing factor in the case of other conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and pododermatiitis.
It can also be dangerous in cases of anorexia as they will metabolise fat which can be lead to hepatic lipidosis.
Rabbits should have a diet of high fibre pellets, add lib grass, hay and greens to prevent obesity and to lose weight.